Several weeks after the arrival of the eight progeny of a single mother who already had six children, my Pennsylvania son wrote, “I would council any woman who thinks she doesn’t “need” a man but she “needs” to have children, to think, instead, of her children’s needs before she gets pregnant. Children deserve a resident father.”
“Here in America, men and women feel the right to pursue their desire to have children, without intending to have any sort of relationship with the child’s other parent. Anyone, man or woman, who sets out to have children by themselves, intentionally depriving them from the start of their other parent, is wrong,” he wrote emphasizing that entering parenthood intending to short-change one’s children by not including the other parent is not in the child’s best interest.
His comments opened up a lengthy discussion on his weblog.
My one contribution to the discussion focused on the fact that men and women approach life differently. Those differences offer children another perspective on just about everything. The most obvious example can be seen on “Jon and Kate plus 8” where the uptight, controlling mother is matched with a laid-back, take-it-easy father. If the children had only their
hyperventilating mother around during these formative pre-school years, they would miss seeing their father’s contrasting casual responses to the same situations. He demonstrates “don’t sweat the small stuff.”
The topic brewed in the back of my mind as I sorted through several years’ accumulation of letters, cards and writings where I came across the following observations made by my Michigan son, Mert Hershberger. He sent us these thoughts four years ago.
I learned how to make money from my dad; I learned how to save money from my mom; and as a family we share the treasures we have with each other.
I learned how to work hard from my dad; I learned how to take it easy from my mom; and as a family we love life: In the easy and the hard times.
I learned how to trust God from my dad; I learned how to pray to God from my mom; and as a family we watched the Lord hear us as we called on His name.
I learned that God created the world for us to study and enjoy from my dad; I learned that God revealed the Bible for us to study and enjoy from my mom; and as a family we watched the seasons change from spring to summer to fall to snow-white winter and we memorized Scripture after Scripture.
I learned to be faithful from my dad; I learned to be grateful from my mom; and as a family we worshiped in the Lord’s House.
I learned that discipline means you are loved from my dad; I learned that generosity means you are loved from my mom; and as a family we inherit the blessings of our Father.
I learned to see that God is good from my dad; I learned to taste His goodness from my mom; and as a family we feasted at the Lord’s table.
I saw the footsteps of Jesus in my dad’s life; I saw the hand print of the Lord in my mother’s; and the Holy Spirit led us forward as a family.
I studied the growing humility of the Lord in our dad’s way of life; I observed the steady honor of the Lord in our mom’s way of life; and as a family we hosted the Lord in our homes when the poor, the confused, the rejected, and those of us kids who tended to stray were given shelter.
There are so many other ways children benefit from having both a father and a mother in residence. Those who intentionally set out to do otherwise only fool themselves. Their kids know the difference.
(Joan Hershberger is a reporter at the News-Times. E-mail her at email@example.com.)